What is a Microinverter?

Before learning about some of the best microinverters on the market, it is useful to know what a microinverter actually does. A microinverter turns direct current (DC), generated by your solar panels, into alternating current (AC) which can be used by your home.

Microinverters differ from standard inverters (also known as “string inverters'') because microinverters are smaller and are placed on the back of each solar panel. In contrast, string inverters with optimizers (such as SolarEdge) connect one central inverter to every solar panel. This means that if the inverter goes out, none of the panels will produce electricity unless the inverter is replaced.

For this reason, microinverters are generally preferred since individual units can be replaced without compromising the entire system. Microinverters also provide the advantage of being able to monitor the production of each individual panel and make expanding the system easier in the future.

Enphase Energy IQ8 vs IQ7 Microinverters

Enphase Energy is one of the leading producers of microinverters. Their most recent product release, the Enphase IQ8, has made innovative changes to their previous series of microinverters, the Enphase IQ7. With this new model, there is a higher maximum current output and the ability to provide off-grid power to a home even without a backup battery system. Usually, during a blackout, solar systems shut down due to safety regulations, but the Enphase IQ8 has the ability to safely disconnect from the grid and continue to supply energy. To enable this capability an Enphase Smart Switch is required to detect blackouts and keep the flow of energy to the house/business while the sun is shining.

Other capabilities of the IQ8 also include:

  • Lightweight and compact with plug-n-play connectors
  • Power Line Communication (PLC) between components
  • Faster installation with simple two-wire cabling
  • More than one million cumulative hours of testing
  • Remote automatic updates for the latest grid requirements

Comparing Enphase IQ8 to IQ7 Capacity

Compared to the Enphase IQ7, the IQ8 enables your solar system to generate power during an outage (kit required). Furthermore, if you are adding an Enphase battery now or in the future, you may want to consider the IQ8 series because they offer more scaling flexibility to your backup capacity. IQ8 microinverters can also match the power output of highly efficient panels, especially those panels that are larger than 60 cells, such as 66-cell, 72-cell, and 84-cell solar panels.

When choosing between the different IQ8 models (IQ8, IQ8+, IQ8M, IQ8A, IQ8H), it is generally smart to choose a microinverter that will generate slightly less power than the maximum power your panels can produce. This is because factors like shading often cause panels to produce below their maximum power output. For most home projects, IQ8M and IQ8+ are sufficient.

Module Pairings IQ7 Model AC Peak Power IQ8 Model AC Peak Power
235-350+ W IQ7 250 VA IQ8 245 VA
235-440+ W IQ7+ 295 VA IQ8+ 300 VA
320-460+ W IQ7X 320 VA IQ8M 330 VA
235-510+ W IQ7A 366 VA IQ8A 366 VA
235-530+ W IQ8H 384 VA

Would you like to learn which microinverter is right for you?

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